The United State’s leading third-party certifier of fairtrade products, Fair Trade USA, announced a redesigned certification label and significant revisions to its Multiple Ingredients Product Policy on January 18. Under the revised ‘Single Products’ Ingredients Policy, which applies to all food and personal care products, only products that contain 100% Fair Trade Certified ingredients may bear the full Fair Trade Certified label. Products containing at least 20% Fair Trade Certified ingredients will now bear a new Fair Trade Certified Ingredients label.

Fair Trade USA split from the FLO system in September 2011.When FTUSA later revealed it planned to introduce its own fair trade label and certification, and change its fair trade multiple ingredients content policy to allow a minimum of 25% Fair Trade Certified content for a product to use the ‘Fair Trade Certified’ label, it came under attack from other USA fair trade advocates and organizations. Under its ‘Fair Trade for All’ strategy, FTUSA aimed to double US sales for its fair trade farmers.

“The Fair Trade Certified label, now found on more than 10,000 products throughout the United States, ensures shoppers that the farmers and workers producing the labelled goods were paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and earn community development funds to empower and improve their communities,” FTUSA said.

The updated label, a significant deviation from the original black-and-white Fair Trade Certified label, can be used in any country in the world.  It was also designed to visually highlight the important benefits of Fair Trade. Brands are encouraged to convert to the updated logo on packaging by October 2012, but  Fair Trade USA will continue to support both the old and new labels to minimize marketplace confusion. The globally-registered mark is already beginning to appear on store shelves across the nation.

Developed in response to a comprehensive two-month consultation period with multiple stakeholders in the Fair Trade movement, the new draft of Fair Trade USA’s Multiple Ingredients Product Policy clearly defines the composition and labelling requirements for products with a mixture of both Fair Trade Certified ingredients and ingredients for which Fair Trade standards do not currently exist like eggs, wheat, and dairy.

Under the revised policy, only products with 100 percent Fair Trade Certified content can use the full label.  To use the ingredients label:

a) 100 percent of the ingredient commonly associated with a product must be Fair Trade Certified: A chocolate bar must contain 100 percent Fair Trade Certified cocoa.

b) For any individual Fair Trade Certified ingredient used in the product, 100 percent of that ingredient must be certified: If a product contains Fair Trade Certified vanilla extract, all of the vanilla extract in the product must be Fair Trade Certified.

c) The product must contain at least 20 percent Fair Trade Certified content in total, and all ingredients that can be Fair Trade Certified must be Fair Trade Certified, if the ingredient is commercially available.

In the case of single-ingredient products, like tea and coffee, Fair Trade USA will continue to require that 100 percent of the product be Fair Trade Certified. The policy also requires full web disclosure of all ingredients contained in a product.

“The revised Ingredients Policy reflects our organization’s commitment to include more farmers and workers in the Fair Trade model, and our desire to raise the bar for certification transparency,” said Paul Rice, president and CEO of Fair Trade USA. “It’s designed to offer more Fair Trade farmers the opportunity to sell their products into the global market, enable more companies to make a meaningful impact through responsible sourcing, and accurately communicate to shoppers the social and environmental benefits of purchasing Fair Trade Certified products.”